As a vegetarian it sometimes surprises people to hear about how much I love Korean food. It often surprises people even more to hear that I lived there for three years as a veggie. It was always sad to meet people who would tell me they were vegetarian until they moved to Korea.
Being a vegetarian there wasn’t always the easiest thing in the world, and I did have one or two mishaps. In terms of the food that arrived this is, not in anything that I actually ate. There was even an occasion, when dining with a group of colleagues, that my boss at the time turned to me (whilst stirring a big pot of stew) and said “You can eat this, it’s vegetarian” just as at that exact moment a huge claw bobbed to the surface. Yeah. But really, with the right bits and pieces of language it really was easy enough to get by.
Another way to get around the problem of finding veggie Korean food is, of course, to cook it for yourself. I’ve picked up a few recipes along the way but was recently looking for some inspiration for a new dish. Incidentally, I was also a few days ago looking for slow cooker recipes after receiving one for Xmas (it’s my new love, but that’s a whole other story). As it happens the two converged when I found this recipe on MJ & the Hungryman for slow cooked Dakdoritang, a spicy Korean stew with vegetables and potatoes… Just one hiccough: ‘dak’ is Korean for chicken. So here’s my version – we shall call it ‘No-Dak-Doritang.’
200g potatoes, chopped into mid-sized chunks
3 carrots, sliced
1 large onion, chopped into mid-sized chunks
Handful of mushrooms, quartered
Half a cauliflower, chopped into mid-sized pieces
For the Sauce:
2 tbs Korean chilli paste (gochujang – you should be able to buy this in any East Asian supermarket. I buy mine in store from here)
1 tbs chilli flakes
4 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs honey or maple syrup
1 tbs sesame oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
100ml vegetable stock
Begin by softening the onions – some slow cooker inserts can be cooked on the hob which speeds up this step. Add these to the slow cooker, along with all of the vegetables. Add all sauce ingredients to a bowl and mix thoroughly. Pour the sauce mixture onto the vegetables. Stir until everything is coated. Cook on high for 2-3 hours or on low for 6-8 hours.
Ideally serve topped with sesame seeds but as you can see I forgot this step! This recipe is also suitable to be cooked on the hob with the onion, potatoes, carrot and cauliflower slowly cooking in the sauce until they begin to soften. The mushrooms can be added later and once cooked, the heat turned up so the sauce can thicken. A very simple, very tasty (and very spicy!) recipe however you cook it.
Have you ever cooked veggie versions of Korean classics? Let me know!